Breaking down

Thanks for everyone who attended the ESRCaad debate on Saturday in Newcastle. It was a great day, a super event, many meeting up and making connections. I now know things that I didn’t know before – something I vastly appreciate. There, as always with these kind of arrangements, was way too little time to chat to everyone – something I will not appreciate, ever.

To keep a record, I have set up a dissemination page here. As I mentioned during my very brief closing remarks on the Saturday, the collated material will be used for my presentation at VeloCity – abstract here. So thanks, doubly, to everyone who attended, contributed, engaged, challenged, shared! As always with this blog, feel free to leave your comments and thoughts below. I would pick them up as things move along.

One of the clear messages, for me, from the debate was this:

We must break down our campaigning asks and translate our cycling visions and inclusively active city futures into bite-sized digestible chunks, so others can see and visualise, almost feel, and understand what it is that we are talking about.

In other words, we must “create compelling narratives and stories” (Sally Hinchcliffe) to make cycling (including its voice and infrastructure) inclusive (Kevin Hickman)

Organsing the event, pre and post and with care

For me, putting together get-togethers like this one tends to be hard work, that if done well hopefully pays off. Reaping the reward at the end, the outputs and outcome, being an important part of the whole process.

So, the discussions I had with my super supervisor about the organisation of the ESRCaad event (and its after-care) somewhat threw me. It emerged that we had looked at the management of the event in completely different ways.

  • To me, it was important to not just organise an event and then ‘get on with life’ afterwards – as if nothing happened. I wanted to arrange something that stays a bit, that has a record and something that can function for learning and general dissemination. I treated the ESRCaad day as data.
  • My supervisor, on the other hand, had seen it as something one-off and static.

This startled me. Then, fortuitously, I attended a Graduate School session this week presented by the wonderful Laura Hutchinson, who managed to completely restore my faith in the importance of being organised and project management. It was good to have these 1.5 hours to reflect. Breaking down your PhD project into bits and pieces is vital should any success ever come off it. Organising yourself is essential; as is trusting yourself, including your instincts and hunches. Your supervisors are part ‘your team’, although supervisors (due to their own priorities) may not be able to play ball all the time. You also have to build your team. And I suppose I am working on that. All good.

  1. Literature review (version 3) deadline 27 November
  2. Meeting to talk through methodology (think aloud, Tobii eyetracker and Emotive EEG) on 18 December
  3. Annual progression documents including programme revision, first draft end of December
  4. German fieldtrip 28 Dec – 12 Feb 2016

Overall learning this week? Breaking down bigger chunks of works into manageable tasks, helps prevent a break-down of a different kind in the longer run. This goes for event management, PhD projects, life, the universe and everything.

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